Muse

Tap into your creativity
Images of Muse screens on iPhone

context

I'm not a creative person :(

This project began as a passion project inspired by my artistic explorations during Covid. During this time I found myself using art as a form of stress relief. However, finding ideas and creative prompts proved to be difficult.

I set out to create a product that could help alleviate the pressure of finding creative prompts and allow users to simply tap into their need to create. Creating art is a scientifically proven way to alleviate stress. However, for those who want to create but “aren’t creative”, it can be challenging to come up with an idea.

Muse was created for those who would like to create art but need a little push. Muse is an app that helps people tap into their creativity by providing art prompts and creative inspiration. Through fun interactions and a simple interface, users can find prompts to inspire them to create and learn techniques to improve their art.

Timeline

4 weeks

Tools

Adobe XD, Procreate, Illustrator, Photoshop, Whimsical

Role

UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer, Usability Testing

Research

How do you do art?

Every time I sit down to draw something, I find myself thinking “what should I draw?” Practicing art has scientifically proven benefits for one’s mental health. I wanted to understand how and why people engage with art. I was curious to see if they felt similar to me and my friend in that we enjoy the act of drawing but find it difficult to come up with an idea.

Because this idea came from a personal frustration, I started my research by conducting a preliminary survey to validate whether there was a need for a service like this. Results confirmed there were others who felt similarly to me and my friend and would like to have more guidance with their art.

I interviewed 8 people in their 20s - 30s who said that they enjoy art but find it difficult to participate. I asked them questions such as “why do you draw/paint/sculpt?”, “how often do you draw?”, “what motivates you to engage with art?” Three main themes arose from these conversations.

Vector image of pointing finger
Interaction

Participants mentioned that they value interacting with art physically, whether that be through creating art or physically observing art at museums.

Vector image of lightbulb & pencil to symbolize expression
Expression

They also mentioned that they enjoy creating art for fun and use it a means of self-expression.

Brain vector image
Mental Wellbeing

Participants mentioned that they would look to art as a way to check in with themselves mentally. They find painting, drawing, and crafting to be relaxing.

Jobs-to-be-done

Meet Maddie

Using a jobs-to-be-done methodology, I dissected the “job” our target user might use our platform to fulfill by exploring both the functional and emotional aspects of a potential solution.

Maddie uses painting as a form of stress relief, and she would like to easily create something without spending too much time thinking about what to paint.

Functional Aspect

Wants to create something before the moment passes

Some people tend to create when the mood hits them, and it was important to consider time in the design. The main idea of the app is to give the user an idea that sparks their creativity. With this in mind, the main value proposition of the app should be to easily access and quickly provide the key information to the user. The information should be presented in a way that is both easy and fun to access, and it should not be distracting.

Design insight 1

Tinder-inspired creative cards

The research suggested that users need certain key information for a prompt: a description, images, and options.
Each card contains these key features. They can choose a category to swipe through or choose to swipe through a random selection.

The onboarding questionnaire will be used to suggest ideas and events that the user may be interested in. Additionally, it should have some sense of fun, not just be an endless list of ideas. Presenting the prompts as a card-swipe game creates more interaction for the user, it is a familiar design concept, and it plays to the reward system and curiosity of human psychology. 

Images of the homepage, prompt page, categories page, and card page

Design insight 2

Onboarding

Onboarding is the first experience a user has with an app. It is important that this experience is appealing so they can continue to make an account and become an active user. With this in mind, I focused on only asking for the most pertinent information. This information will be used to tailor the app content in the randomized prompts and event suggestions.

When users first open the app, they are greeted with illustrations and an overview of the app’s function. Muse is intended to be a space for personal creativity, and the key points are quickly outlined. After they sign up, they are prompted to complete an onboarding questionnaire asking about their art preferences to help tailor the app content and find relevant events & prompts.

Collection of the onboarding screens

personal dimension

Aesthetically pleasing and easy to use

Design insight

Simple interface to reduce cognitive load

The simplicity lies in the information architecture and is supported by the UI. I did not want to give users too much information or make the interface distracting.

Task flows for onboarding and finding a prompt

Creating a brand

Muse: a source of inspiration (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

The goal of the app is to provide creative inspiration. Building off of this definition, and the goal of providing an encouraging atmosphere to inspire creation, the UI was intended to reflect these ideas. 

I carefully selected colors that not only looked good together, but also conveyed the right emotions. Orange suggests creativity and energy, while lavender conveys tranquility. 

Muse style tile with logo, color pallet, and fonts

Social dimension

Engage with an artistic community

Art can be a personal practice and/or an opportunity for connections. Participants mentioned that they found events from Facebook, Instagram, MeetUp, and word of mouth. 

Design insight

Find art events in your area

The answers provided in the onboarding questions will be used to find related art events near you. As part of onboarding, the user can select their closest metropolitan city to tailor the app to show art events in and around that area.

Collection of event screens

Prototype

Putting it all together

After editing the wireframes and incorporating the branding, I created a prototype to test the main flows. I tested these interactions with 5 potential users via Zoom. They were asked to share their screen and think aloud. The goal was to validate the design and overall usability by observing them as they navigate the app. Overall, all participants were able to access the main features.

Onboarding

When users first open the app, they are greeted with illustrations and an overview of the app’s function. Muse is intended to be a space for personal creativity.

After they sign up, they are prompted to complete an onboarding questionnaire asking about their art preferences to help tailor the app content and find relevant events & prompts.

Gif of the onboarding process

Finding A Prompt

Finding a prompt is the main focus of the homepage. The prompt card generator is a game where users can flip through the cards to find a prompt. The prompts are open-ended and intended to allow space for self-reflection.

Gif of the prompt card interactions

Reflection

The biggest lesson I learned from this project was the importance of testing early and failing fast. When designing a product from end to end, it is so important to validate your decisions every step of the way with research so that you don’t end up designing the wrong thing. If given more time, I would have tested more often throughout the design phase.

Creating this prototype and seeing it come to life encouraged me to think about the different ways we as human beings cope with life. In recent years there’s been a resurgence of meditation practices that tend to focus on introspection. For some, like myself, this isn’t the best or most effective way to manage stress; we need to physically do something.

A fully-realized version of Muse would provide a calm and encouraging space to reflect through art practice.